The Archive Lady: 5 Easy Steps to Preserving Scrapbooks
Alice from Florida asks: “I have 12 scrapbooks that belonged to my Great-Grandmother. For the most part they are in good shape, but some items are coming out or are loose in some of the scrapbooks. What is the best way to preserve scrapbooks?”
Scrapbooks are a genealogist’s gold mine! If you ask anyone that knows me, they will tell you that my favorite record collection to do research in and to process in the archive is scrapbooks.
Scrapbooks are like time capsules, nobody knows what will be found in them until they are opened. There are all kinds of styles of scrapbooks from newspaper clippings, obituary, diary, sports teams, personal history and many more. Many of our ancestors painstakingly glued all kinds of documents, photographs and ephemera into scrapbooks to remind them of what they experienced during their lifetime and to pass along those experiences to their descendants.
Preserving scrapbooks is actually fairly easy and anyone can do it with these five easy steps:
- Digitize each and every page of the scrapbook. Use a flat bed scanner, digital camera or an overhead scanner.DO NOT use any kind of self-feeding scanner or a hand held scanner. These types of scanners could potentially damage the pages or the items pasted to the pages. Make sure to digitize the scrapbook in original order from the first page to the last page. Be sure to label the digitized images and include metadata about each image.
- Purchase archival tissue paper. Archival tissue paper can be purchased at any online archival materials store (see list of Online Archival Stores below) Be sure to get a size that is about 1/4″ to 1/2″ larger than the scrapbook page. This will insure that the tissue paper covers the entire scrapbook page. If you have larger pieces of tissue paper, cutting the tissue paper to size is perfectly fine. If there are items coming loose or falling out of the scrapbook, use plastic paper clips to clip them to the page where they belong. DO NOT use any kind of glue to paste the item back into the scrapbook.
- Interweaver the tissue paper in-between each and every page of the scrapbook. The tissue paper will act as a shield to protect anything on the pages from bleeding onto or damaging the adjoining page. Also, if any items are falling out of the scrapbook and exposing the glue, the tissue paper will keep the glue from touching items on other pages.
- Purchase an archival box that is as close to the size of the scrapbook as possible. The box used should be a flat box with a separate lid. Do not use an upright Hollinger box or other box that requires that the scrapbook to be stored standing on its end. It is important that all scrapbooks be stored lying down. Place a piece of tissue paper in the bottom of the box, then lay the scrapbook on the tissue paper. If there is still room in the box and the scrapbook is sliding around, crumple up archival tissue paper and tuck it around the scrapbook to secure it in place so it doesn’t move. Do not stuff the scrapbook in the box. The scrapbook should fit snugly so that it doesn’t move around in the box.
- Label the box with information about the scrapbook. For instance, “World War II Scrapbook, Belonged to John Jones, 1941-1945”. Store the boxed scrapbook in a cool, dry and dark place. Keep away from sunlight and handle the scrapbook as least as possible. Consult with the digital images as much as possible so that damage is not done to the original scrapbook from handling.
These easy steps to preserve scrapbooks will insure they will survive for many years to come.
Archival Material Websites
Here is a listing of online archival materials stores. They all have online catalogs and paper catalogs that can be sent to your home. Also, be sure to sign up for email notifications because they periodically have sales and will send out email notifications.
- Gaylord Archival
- Hollinger Metal Edge
- Light Impressions
- University Products
Scrapbooks! Do you want to know how to find scrapbooks about your ancestors or do you have scrapbooks that you own and would like to know how to preserve them? Get my latest Legacy Family Tree Webinar and QuickGuide:
Scrapbooks: A Genealogist’s Gold Mine
Scrapbooks: A Genealogist’s Gold Mine Legacy Quick Guide
If you have a question about researching in archives or records preservation for The Archive Lady, send an email with your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation.
©Copyright 2017 Melissa Barker. All Rights Reserved